CORAL GABLES, Fla. - It has turned into South Florida's most iconic piece of jewelry. The University of Miami football team's flashy "turnover chain" gets fans, and players, pumped.
"We obviously had no idea it would become as much of a cult following, you know, as it's become," Joel Rodriguez said.
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Rodriguez is the team's director of player development, but he's also taken on a new role this season as the keeper of the coveted necklace during the games.
Security for the gold chain is so tight that Local 10 News wasn't even allowed to see it.
"I had no idea how much of an honor it would be, because I didn't know how much it was going to come out or how big of a role it would play," Rodriguez said.
The process is simple: If a player forces a turnover, he gets the chain.
But as the second-ranked Hurricanes (10-0, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) keep on winning, the chain's popularity has grown, so much so that security has become a concern.
Rodriguez said the chain is kept hidden until it is placed around a player's neck. He and law enforcement are there to protect the chain when it's in the public view.
A Cuban-American, the designated chain custodian said the jewelry's symbolism is almost poetic.
"I think a big, gaudy, Cuban-link chain with a big huge 'U' charm on it says a lot about Miami," Rodriguez said. "It signifies this program, this community and the bond between the two of them, and I think that's why it's caught on like wildfire."
Rodriguez said the chain is kept offsite at an undisclosed location and given to him on game days.
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